For the second straight season, the Screven County Gamecocks have advanced to the Class AA state quarterfinals, and for the second straight year, that game will be played in Sylvania.
This should come as no surprise to Screven County fans as they have become accustomed to watching their Gamecocks in the comfort of Kelly Memorial Stadium.
Screven County (11-0) and Rabun County (12-0) are scheduled to kick off Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Sylvania.
Since head coach Ron Duncan took over the program in 2012, Screven County has advanced to the state playoffs in every year. In that time, the Gamecocks have played 12 state playoff games, with only one game taking place on the road. Duncan is 7-5 overall in the state playoffs.
“It’s always great to be at home,” Duncan said. “It’s an environment the kids are used to and comfortable with, and certainly with our crowd — we have a big following — it’s fun for them and for us.”
Duncan took over a program that had missed the postseason for four straight years. This week they go up against a team and a coach that has made quite a turnaround at his school as well.
When Lee Shaw took the reins of the program in 2012, Rabun County had not made the postseason since 1998. Shaw — in the same manner as Duncan — saw immediate success and has taken the Wildcats to state every year he has been there, including winning four straight region titles.
“They are well coached and are a lot different than most of the teams we have played,” said Duncan. “They like to throw it around a bit, kind of like Jefferson County, but add a little more power with a tough quarterback.”
The Gamecocks enter the game averaging 43 points per game while their defense is allowing only 7.2 points per contest. The Wildcats average 49 points per game and their defense allows just over nine points per contest.
Bailey Fisher, whom Duncan called a great quarterback, runs Rabun’s Air Raid-type system.
“They also have some other great athletes to complement him,” Duncan said.
Fisher averages 222 yards per game passing and another 80 yards per game rushing, so it will be important for the Gamecocks to know where he is at all times.
“It’s definitely going to be a unique challenge for our defense,” Duncan said. “We are going to have to be dialed in and prepared for it and I believe we are on the road to doing that.”
The Gamecocks have their own weapons the Wildcats will have to deal with. Quarterback Armani Bunbary accounts for more than 180 yards of total offense per game, and Kim Hunter and CJ Wright each rush for close to 80 yards per contest.
“I thought we did some good things the past couple weeks on both sides of the ball,” said Duncan. “Our kids have responded to the challenges so far and I don’t expect anything to change Friday.”